You really should trust us and do the workouts we provide in the magazine—but if you’re going to design your own program, at least avoid these errors: MISTAKE 1 Pairing exercises that are too grip intensive ● Doing supersets with exercises that require hard gripping, such as lunges and stepups, will limit the amount of work you’ll be able to perform in a given set. Since the flexor muscles of the hand and forearm are much smaller and weaker than those of the legs, your grip will always give out before your legs do. CORRECTION: Try to pair exercises that aren’t limited by smaller muscle groups, like the bench press and row.
MISTAKE 2 Training only your strengths ● You may tend to train only the lifts you are strong at, but that actually limits your potential gains. By neglecting your weak points, you set yourself up for injury due to muscle imbalances. CORRECTION: Find the things you suck at and design your program around those areas. This usually means paying more attention to muscle groups like the back, hamstrings, glutes, and core.
MISTAKE 3 Timing squats and deadlifts improperly ● These two exercises are the most taxing lifts on the central nervous system, especially the deadlift. When you deadlift, you have to generate force from a static position when you pull the weight off the floor. This cannot be done optimally when you’re recovering after a squat session, and it will put you at risk for a lower-back or hamstring injury. CORRECTION: Always allow at least 72 hours between squat and deadlift sessions if you train them separately. Or, if you prefer to do both lifts in the same day, squat first and give yourself a whole week to recover afterward.
MISTAKE 4 Training your lower back too frequently ● It’s easy to overtrain the lower back because of all the direct and indirect work it receives during a training week. The lower back’s main function when lifting is that of a stabilizer, which means it gets plenty of work during main movements like the squat and deadlift or any row or press. CORRECTION: Limit moves such as the back extension to lower-body days.
MISTAKE 5 Circuit training like you do normal sets Circuit training helps you drop body fat, but it loses effectiveness when going from movement to movement requires setup or waiting for equipment. You need to keep your heart rate elevated for circuits to work, so you can’t let yourself recover between exercises. CORRECTION: Try to stick with exercises that utilize dumbbells or body weight, and avoid using machines or having to travel the length of the gym. If you can, set up your stations in advance and place them near one another.